Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s Best Of series takes musical genres and categories and highlights our staff’s personal favorites. You can read more entries from this series here.
Concept albums! The definition of what constitutes a concept album exactly varies depending on the person you’re talking to, but in most cases there’s a general agreement that a concept album must contain at least one single, pre-meditated unifying theme or story, with each track contributing to that theme or story in some way. Most concept albums exist as solitary, standalone units, while some bands (see The Dear Hunter or Coheed and Cambria) spend huge parts of their careers built around a long-form concept that they explore over multiple albums. Though the “modern” concept album as we think of it has its roots in the experimental classic rock era of the late 60s and 70s, really the idea of conveying a single story through song is as old as the medium itself. Music’s primary use for centuries was as a storytelling tool for bards and aspiring musicians of all stripes. Thus the albums listed below aren’t so much splendid or revolutionary for the way in which they present their music, but they are nonetheless exceptional and oftentimes have become highly influential for how their use of story and music bring out the best of each band’s respective talents as songwriters and storytellers.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.
As is typical of these updates, there are numerous inclusions that have received the Heavy Blog seal of approval via a positive review. Leprous‘ The Congregation (review here), Sirens‘ Surge (review here), Lamb of God‘s VII: Sturm Und Drang (review here), Northlane‘s Node (review here), Hope Drone‘s Cloak of Ash (review here), We Lost the Sea‘s Departure Songs (review here), Between the Buried and Me‘s Coma Ecliptic (review here), Cattle Decapitation‘s Anthropocene Extinction (review here), August Burns Red‘s Found in Far Away Places (review here), Dreadnought‘s Bridging Realms (review here) and Khemmis‘ Absolution (review here) are all excellent albums from this year that are definitely worth your time. Due to Dr. Dre releasing his first album in sixteen years, it is no surprise that the album – Compton – appears among our hip-hop head heavy staff. Dre’s other two albums – The Chronic and 2001 – also appear this week, as well as two projects featuring MF DOOM (Bl_ck B_st_rds and Madvillainy) and Madlib (Madvillainy and Piñata), Kendrick Lamar‘s spectacular To Pimp a Butterfly and eminent producre Flying Lotus‘s excellent Cosmogramma and You’re Dead, all demonstrating our staff’s solid taste in the genre.
For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Head past the jump to see which receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
As we alluded to in our announcement last week, Heavy Blog is taking a step back from covering much of the day-to-day goings-on of the metal community at large, and this includes new tracks that bands drop. To be honest, we were pretty shoddy at best at covering new tracks like that in a timely manner anyway. That isn’t at all to say that we’re not still deeply interested in and invested in listening to new music as it comes out and giving our thoughts though. So in the interest of that, we’re starting up a new weekly column to round-up all of the singles and new tracks from the past week dropped by bands we cover. There may end up being some overlap between this and other posts from the week (Jimmy already gave his initial thoughts on the new Coheed and Cambria), but consider this our weekly mix to help keep you all on top of the latest releases from across the metallic and progressive spectrums. Ready? Let’s get singled out!
For years, I just didn’t “get” Coheed and Cambria. Their particular style provided an interesting crossover that pulled fans from pop-punk and prog rock, and I just couldn’t follow. I even once referred to them as “pseudo-prog” with 100% conviction. In hindsight, I attribute my distaste for them for feeling as though they “stole” drummer Chris Pennie from The Dillinger Escape Plan. Thankfully, I’ve since corrected the error of my ways, and I am currently one of “those” people who have a Keywork decal on my car.
Once upon a time, in the past of the blog, there was a series planned to be called *prognotes. The idea was to delve into a progressive metal album, known for their intricate lyrics and concept albums. This idea was never fully realized. The run it had was fantastic: analyzing the intricate works of Between the Buried and Me, Coheed and Cambria and Obscura, it was fascinating and insightful glance into some of our favorite bands and the amount of time they spent on their writing.
So we’re bringing it back! We have a few albums lined up but we’ll be starting with what is perhaps the best progressive album to come out this year: Arcane‘s Known/Learned. Written by the incomparable Jim Grey (Caligula’s Horse), it’s a wide ranging concept album the touches on issues of war, memory, family and time. We hope you enjoy reading our analysis of it; please feel free to sound off below with your own thoughts and recommendations for the next installements. Strap on your best time-travelling attire and let’s get going!
If you’re a fan of A+ music and will be anywhere in the vicinity of Tempe, Arizona this coming Hallowe’en, you’re probably going to want to snag up a ticket to Tool’s one-off show at Monster Mash Music Festival featuring opening acts Primus and Coheed and Cambria. You heard that right, Tool, Primus, and Coheed (plus others to be announced!), for one night only – and that night, of all nights, is Hallowe’en night! Spoooooky! More details after the jump.
Coheed and Cambria are approaching the three year mark since they’ve released what I would consider their opus of a double album, The Afterman. Naturally, the sheer amount of material the band dropped and the fact that two band members had children lent to a longer than usual gap between records. It’s not as if the band have been on hiatus since then, either: they’ve toured rather extensively, going as far as taking their trailblazing record, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth on the road in its entirety. We also know that the band are working on new music and have signed to a new management company (Jay Z‘s Roc Nation, no less), so I’d wager to bet that the band are preparing a new record for release within the next year or so.
In the mean time, the band are still sporadically hitting the road for live shows. Most recently, the band have announced a run of dates for June with emo quintet You Blew It! It’s crazy how Coheed’s sound lends itself to a variety of different touring opportunities. They can tour with prog/tech metal and emo/punk bands alike and just have everything make sense. Unfortunately, I’ve never considered myself a fan of Dashboard Confessional, so…
Get dates after the jump!
Having just wrapped up another special tour with Thank You Scientist, Coheed and Cambria will take a short rest before making another trek to dazzle audiences around the world. For this latest escapade, the band took stages across North America to play the entirety of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 in all of its glory and wrapped up most shows with encores of up to five or six songs.
Please bask in the photos below to either live or relive a fantastic performance from two monumental modern progressive acts.
We might be a ways off from a new album from progressive alt rock group Coheed and Cambria — the latest estimate from the band places the work in progress record in mid-2015 — but that’s not stopping Coheed main man Claudio Sanchez from giving fans a glimpse of new material. Claudio has uploaded a video of himself performing a stripped-down version of a new song, ‘Atlas,’ named after his newborn son, to the band’s official YouTube channel. Check it out after the jump.
That puzzling countdown that we encountered at Coheed and Cambria‘s website last week? As suspected, the countdown culminated in an announcement that Coheed and Cambria were returning to the road. But this isn’t just any tour; the group will be performing their album In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 in its entirety. Even better, they’re bringing along Heavy Blog favorites Thank You Scientist! Yes good!